Shaikh al-Albaani

Translations From His Works

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 8 | Following the Imaam if He is Mistaken


Questioner: If the Imaam performs the Qunut supplication in the morning prayer, raising his hands, and the one praying behind him knows that he performs the Qunut in the morning prayer, does the one praying behind him have to raise his hands in order to follow the Imaam?

Al-Albaani: Yes. Because of the previous hadith, and in reality this is a precise/detailed issue, because in the first part of that hadith he عليه السلام said, ‘The Imam is only there to be followed, so when he says, ‘Allaahu Akbar,’ then you should say it, and when he recites, then listen, and when he bows then you should bow, and when he says, ‘Allaah has heard the one who praised him,’ then say, ‘Our Lord, all praise is for you,’ and when he prostrates then you should prostrate, and if he prays standing then pray standing, and if he prays sitting then you should pray sitting.’

This hadith is a very great text concerning the fact that the praying person has to follow the Imaam even if it means that he has to leave a pillar of the prayer, not just something obligatory or sunnah [but a pillar even], because we all know that from the pillars of the prayer, without which the prayer is not correct, is to pray whilst standing, as He, the Most High, said, ‘… and stand before Allaah, devoutly obedient.’ [Baqarah 2:238]

If a man performed an obligatory prayer whilst sitting when he could have done so standing, then his prayer is null and void, this is in contrast to the optional prayer which the Legislator has permitted one to pray sitting, but He made its reward equivalent to half of the one who prays whilst standing.

As for [praying] the obligatory prayer whilst sitting if one is not ill or does not have any other excuse, then such a prayer is null and void.

Yet even though that is the case [and to show how important following the Imaam is], if the Imaam prayed whilst sitting out of illness then all of those who are following him, even though they are healthy, have to pray whilst sitting along with him as a realisation of this general principle, that, ‘The Imam is only there to be followed …’

And the circumstance relating to this hadith is that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was riding an animal of his one day when he fell off and hurt a vein in the middle of his arm. The time for midday prayer approached and so he led them whilst sitting, since due to the severity of the impact he عليه السلام wasn’t able to do so standing. He عليه السلام noticed that the people behind him were praying standing, since firstly, this was what [in normal circumstances] was ordained for them and they always used to pray behind him عليه السلام standing, so he signalled for them to sit which they did and then he عليه السلام said, ‘You were almost about to do what the Persians do before their greats, they stand before their kings. ‘The Imam is only there to be followed, so when he says, ‘Allaahu Akbar,’ you should say it …’ until the end of the hadith.

So we notice here that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ordered his Companions who were strong and healthy to sit down, because he was. He was the one who couldn’t stand and so was excused, those following him were able to stand, but the Wise Legislator deemed them to be excused from having to pray standing in order to follow the Imaam who, due to a valid excuse, was praying sitting.

For this reason, we say that when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘… when he bows then you should bow and when he prostrates you should prostrate …’ he did not do so to mean that following the Imaam was only to be limited to these things, but rather it was to give an example [of the things he is to be followed in], and there is a difference between those things being mentioned by way of limitation and between being mentioned as some examples, i.e., the Prophet عليه السلام mentioned them as examples to affirm the principle that, ‘The Imam is only there to be followed …’

And we know, for example, that when an Imaam forgets [to sit for] the first tashhahud and stands, it is upon some of those following him to remind him by saying, ‘Subhaanallaah!’  So if he remembers, he goes back and this has some elaboration which maybe I can mention soon, and if the Imaam doesn’t remember and stands, then he will have left this [first] tashhahud, [he will have left] the sitting for the first tashhahud and what is to be read therein mistakenly–but we [i.e., the people praying behind him] follow him in that mistake [i.e., we have to stand up with him and can’t remain sitting to recite the tashhahud], because he has an excuse [i.e., forgetfulness].

And in a similar way, elimate each issue where difference has occurred between the Imaams, so if the Imaam is performing a prayer in which he opposes the Sunnah while believing himself to be upon the Sunnah, then we do not oppose him.

But as we mentioned earlier, if he left the Sunnah out of negligence/disregard then following him is not applied here, because he is not following the Sunnah and not following an Imaam, here we oppose him because he has opposed the Sunnah and his Imaam, so he is a negligent, lazy person who does not have an excuse.

So the principle is that he [i.e., the Imaam] is followed in whatever breach he has an excuse for, and if he doesn’t [have an excuse] then no, the Sunnah.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 75.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 7 | A Question from America: Can A Group of Brothers Establish the Prayer at Home if the Imaam is Upon Innovation?


Al-Albaani: Wa alaikum salaam.

Questioner: Is his eminence, the Shaikh present?

Al-Albaani [out of humility]: The old, aged, Shaikh is present.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good, O Shaikh.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Questioner: Can we ask some questions, O Shaikh?

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: We called you yesterday and didn’t find you, so the brother al-Khateeb gave us some answers about the issue.

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: And he asked us to call you today, so we are here in the city of Arlington in Texas, in the US, and we have a Mosque here with an Imaam …

Al-Albaani: He [i.e., al-Khateeb] explained the issue to me, so listen to the answer.

Any Imaam who leads the Muslims [in prayer], in any place, whether in a mosque or a musalla, or a house, or any other place, as long as the Muslims praying behind him hold that that Imaam is a Muslim, then their prayer behind him is correct–whatever their opinion about him is, whether in relation to aqidah or in terms of manners and actions.

So as long as his violation in aqidah or manners does not lead them to believe that he has disbelieved and left the fold of Islaam, then their prayer behind him is correct, due to his saying عليه الصلاة والسلام about the Imaams who lead you in prayer, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”  This hadith is in Sahih Bukhari, what does it say? “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”  [Bukhaari, no. 694].

But in addition to this, if those who are being led in prayer are discontent with their Imaam in something related to aqidah or manners, then  I advise that they try to replace him with someone else, someone better than him, if that is within their ability, and if it isn’t, then Allaah does not burden any soul with more than it can bear.

So it is either within your control or power to distance this Imaam of yours from being the Imaam and to bring someone better than him … this is something obligatory on you, or if the other case is true [i.e., it is not within your power], then your prayer behind him is correct as I told you before.

And through this legislated ruling it is possible for the Muslims to come together despite their differences and for them not to cut off or turn away from each other, has the answer become clear for you?

Questioner: It’s clear.

Al-Albaani: Good, what else do you have?

Questioner: It’s not allowed after … [tape unclear] … to pray on our own, is it allowed?

Al-Albaani: If the mosque, if the congregation is in the mosque and not outside it and the mosque has an appointed Imaam and an appointed muezzin behind whom the Muslims are gathered, yes.

Questioner: There is an appointed Imaam but not an appointed muezzin.

Al-Albaani: There is an appointed Imaam but not an appointed muezzin? This is something we cannot picture except in the land of disbelief which you live in. For this reason, it is upon you to emigrate from there.

As for the legislated ruling [Transl. note: the person’s question seems to have been about repeating the prayer in the mosque], then repeating the prayer in a mosque which has an appointed muezzin and Imaam who the Muslims gather behind, then here it is not allowed to split the congregation with a second congregational prayer and then a third and so on. But if the two conditions [i.e., the presence of both an appointed Imaam and muezzin] or one of them is not met as you mentioned, then fleeing that country is obligatory.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Questioner: Your eminence, Shaikh, in this situation, is it allowed to establish the congregation at home and not in the mosque, three or four brothers, for example, praying in a house?

Al-Albaani: Which situation do you mean?

Questioner: I don’t understand [your question], O Shaikh?

Al-Albaani: Which situation do you mean, you said, ‘In this situation …’

Questioner: In the situation where an Imaam has such things and such characteristics as lying and other things, we, for example, in … [unclear] …we are not innovators who would establish [a second, third etc.] congregation in the mosque, but, for example, we will establish it in a house, for example, three or four brothers or a number of brothers establish it in a house and do not pray behind that Imaam, and we pray the congregation in a house on our own, is that allowed or not?

Al-Albaani: Why won’t you pray behind him [i.e., the Imaam in the mosque]?

Questioner: Ya’ni, our prayer [behind him] is permissible even if he has those characteristics?

Al-Albaani: By Allaah, what did I just speak about [i.e., wasn’t my whole answer about that]?

Questioner: Yes, may Allaah reward you with good, O Shaikh, can I ask you a second question?

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 442.

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